The Importance Of Bill Of Rights In Australia

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Over the past decades, the topic of constitutional reform has included the possibility of including a bill or rights in our federal constitution. A Bill of Rights is a declaration of individual freedoms and rights issues by a government (Wikipedia, 2014.) The campaign to amend the constitution and instil a bill of rights has been occurring for a long time and has yet to achieve any significant milestones. Countries such as Canada, South Africa and the USA have constitutions which consists of a bill or rights whilst Australia is lacking. Proponents argue that a Bill of Rights protects inalienable human rights and acts as a safeguard for minorities and subgroups. Opponents however show concern over how certain rights would be interpreted and …show more content…
Australia is the last western liberal democracy that does not consist of a bill or rights, constitutionally rooted or statute based. Renée Brack from SBS wrote an opinion piece explaining why she believed Australia needs a Bill of Rights (News, 2014.) She points to several abuses of power where the government has “criminalised innocent people,” further arguing that such atrocities would not occur if an Australian Bill of Rights exists. The discretionary use of police searches and the Queensland ‘anti-bikie’ legislation are some examples used in the article which point towards the need for the protection of freedom and rights. The article uses the United States’ Bill or Rights as a great model for Australia, highlighting its explicit protection of religion, speech, movement and …show more content…
However, the article insists that Australia can learn from the shortcomings of the United States and avoid deluded and unnecessary passages such as the second amendment – the right to “bear arms.” The original intention of this amendment was to allow the government to regulate militias in the event of going to war with another state. However it is now interpreted as each individual’s right to own a dangerous firearm regardless of experience or criminal background. Brack argues that things like this won’t be in an Australian Bill of Rights as we can learn from other countries. Former Prime minister John Howard came out against a Bill of Rights despite publically supporting one for Iraq during the war. The article calls out this hypocrisy, asserting that this topic cannot be approached with double standards. Having a Bill or Rights would protect individuals from political (legislative and executive) oppression and domination. Protecting fundamental human rights and freedoms guarantees that society functions by a rule of law which secures democracy, justice, peace and pluralism. (Anon, 2014) It would also improve our democracy by setting out and protecting the rights that attach to Australian citizenship and would bring the country into line with

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